Megan Rapinoe, Billie Jean King join groups asking NCAA to not host events in Idaho over transgender sports ban
© Getty Images

Current and former professional athletes joined civil liberties groups in asking the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) to relocate its 2021 men’s basketball championship from Idaho over the state’s law restricting transgender students’ participation in sports.

In a statement Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union noted that the NCAA has already condemned the law, House Bill 500, and that it has relocated or halted events in the past over similar issues, such as a North Carolina “bathroom bill.” The measure, the ACLU notes, is in opposition to NCAA guidance on trans issues and could result in invasive medical testing.

“Transgender athletes deserve the same dignity and respect entitled to all NCAA athletes. Because of HB 500, that simply isn’t possible in Idaho,” Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, deputy executive director for policy and action with the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement. “We applaud the NCAA for speaking out against HB 500 and now encourage them to back up their words with action.”

ADVERTISEMENT

A coalition of current and former professional athletes, in a separate letter, asked the NCAA to move the tournament. Signers include tennis icon Billie Jean King, U.S. women's national soccer team star Megan Rapinoe and the New York Knicks’ Reggie Bullock, whose trans sister Mia Henderson was killed in an apparent hate crime in Baltimore in 2014.

“With the passage of HB500, there can be no inclusive championships and events in Idaho. Failure to move championship events out of Idaho would contradict the NCAA’s core values and would be an implicit endorsement of Idaho’s discriminatory law,” the letter states.  “Since the beginning of competitive sport, we have become a better and stronger global athletic community by expanding access, not by withholding it. With this letter, we ask the NCAA to stand with their commitment to inclusivity, and move all events out of Idaho.”

The Hill has reached out to the NCAA for comment.